Welcome to our guest blogger, Alyssa Neider, of 4 Lakes ISR (Infant Swim Resource). Alyssa shares five of the best tips for keeping our youngest kids safe around water this summer.
School is out and that means summer is officially here in Wisconsin! It also means families will be enjoying pools, lakes, oceans during their summer activities. I know that my own four-year-old daughter and I will be spending most of our spare time in the pool! Although spending time in and around bodies of water can be so much fun, they can also be very dangerous. Drowning is the #1 cause of death among children ages 1-4.
About two years ago, I was at the community pool where we lived and I saw a boy that was about the same age as my daughter (2 ½ years old at the time) that was able to swim and float on his back independently! At first, I thought this kid was some kind of prodigy, but after asking his mom, I discovered he had been enrolled in Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). I knew right then and there I wanted to do everything I could to protect my daughter in and around water and wanted to enroll my daughter in ISR. I just had to convince my husband, as he thought I was crazy driving five days a week for only 10 minutes a day for something that might not even work for our daughter. After much discussion, we both decided to give ISR a try. As a mom, my biggest concern was that something would happen to my daughter in the pool without knowing how to save herself.
So what is ISR and how can it help your child? Infant Swimming Resource’s Self-Rescue™ program, teaches children from 6 months to 6 years of age how to survive if they were to reach the water alone. Focused on your child’s stage of development and readiness, each one-on-one ISR lesson is customized to your child’s abilities in the water. Infants who do not yet walk well are taught to submerge, roll onto their back, and float; while toddlers through 6 year olds are taught to swim, turn over and rest and breathe on their back, and turn back over and swim to a point of safety.
ISR is a 6-8 week course, scheduled 5 days per week, Monday through Friday, for a 10 minute one-on-one lesson each day. Sounds insane, right? I thought the exact same thing, but after enrolling my daughter and seeing how after just one week how much progress she had made, I was hooked. It added another layer of protection for my daughter, and after several months of traditional twice weekly swim lessons, I still did not trust or believe that she would know what to do were she to fall into a body of water.
I tell anyone I meet that enrolling my daughter in ISR is by far one of the best things I’ve ever done for my her (and myself, as I am much less anxious!). Within eight weeks, the instructor had my two-year-old swimming, rolling onto her back to float, and then flipping over to swim again across the entire length of the pool to reach the wall unassisted! I was overcome with joy and excitement, and I could breathe easier knowing that she would know what to do should she reach the water alone. No, I would never leave my daughter unattended around water (pools, lakes, tubs, buckets of water), but I do know accidents happen and no parent ever plans for the tragedy of their child drowning. In fact, of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
There were a few other perks to the program that I did not anticipate. First, my daughter’s confidence soared. Once my daughter got over her initial crying, she was a willing participant and by the end she did not want to get out of the water, she kept asking the instructor “Just one more time!” over and over. Second, the program had such a great impact on me that I decided to become an instructor. Becoming an ISR instructor was one of the toughest things I have had to do, as I was away from my family for seven weeks and the training is extremely intense and rigorous. I am so happy that I made the decision to become an instructor. For me this is about giving back to the local community and to reach as many children as possible to fulfill the ISR mission of “Not One More Child Drowns” and to give them the confidence and adding one more added safety barrier along with these other important water safety tips below:
- Effective Supervision: The most critical line of defense is adult supervision. No level of aquatic skill can replace active supervision. If your child is ever missing, look in the water first.
- Pool Fences: If you own a pool or other body of water,install a permanent 4-sided fence with self-locking gates. Ensure that the pool fence is at least 3-5 feet from the pool edge.
- Alarms: Make sure all doors and windows leading to the pool are locked and alarmed.
- Survival Swimming Lessons: A moment’s inattention does not have to cost a child his life. ISR’s Self-Rescue™ training is an added layer of protection, teaching your child water survival skills in a completely safe environment.
- CPR Training: If an emergency happens, it is essential parents and families are prepared. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults and remember to update those skills regularly.
Even if your child has had swimming lessons, no child is drown-proof and there is absolutely no substitute for adult supervision.
In closing, if you are looking for a safe, results-based swim program for your child, I would urge you to consider ISR. Besides working toward the mission “Not One More Child Drowns”, the program sets your child up in the optimum position for a lifetime of aquatic enjoyment.